PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte said he was not lifting martial law in Mindanao before his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 24, as the situation in conflict-torn Marawi City has remained critical.
The 60-day period of martial rule in the south will end on July 22, two days before he delivers his second SONA.
In an interview during an unannounced visit to the 2nd mechanized Infantry Brigade in Iligan City on Friday, Duterte said he would only lift martial law if the military and police would tell him the danger posed by the militants has abated.
“No,” the President said, when asked if martial law would be lifted before his SONA.
“Hindi ako ang nag-ano [I am not the one who determines this]. It’s the armed forces and the police,” he added.|
Duterte said he consulted with the military and was told that the situation in Marawi City was still “critical.”
He said he would rely on their advice because “they are the ones keeping this republic healthy and alive.”
“Ang magsabi sa akin na hindi na critical ang armed forces at ang pulis [Only the armed forces and police can tell me if it is no longer critical]. I do not have an independent study of how things are on the ground,” Duterte said.
“Pag sinabi na nilang wala nang delikado[When they say the situation is no longer delicate] and everything is okay, that’s the time we lift martial law,” he added.
The 1987 Constitution states that Congress, upon the initiative of the President, “may extend such proclamation [of martial law]or the suspension [of the writ of habeas corpus]for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”
The Supreme Court in its July 4 ruling mentioned the possibility of extending martial law beyond 60 days.
On Friday, Armed Forces spokesman Restituto Padilla Jr. said the military would give its recommendation to Duterte as early as next week.
“Regarding the recommendation whether to extend or stop the implementation of martial law, the assessment is not yet done. The recommendation for the commander in chief needs basis,” Padilla said in Filipino.
“Its assessment or study is still ongoing. We can submit this next week or before the 60-day limit lapses,” he added.
The fighting between government troops and militants, which enters its 46th day on Saturday, resulted in the deaths of 39 civilians, 353 terrorists, and 87 security troops.
The President has expressed optimism that the armed conflict in Marawi City in just a “matter of days,” saying the government forces seemed to be “winning” the battle.